tv CNN Newsroom CNN February 6, 2013 11:00am-12:00pm EST
. hello everyone i'm ashleigh banfield i want to get you started with quick headlines right out of the gate. home mail delivery on saturday, about to be a thing of the past. the postal service just announced it's going to stop weekend delivery of letters and other first class mail starting august 1st. you will still get your packages, though. but the cash strapped post office says this move is going to save them billions of dollars. defense secretary leon panetta is dropping a bombshell on active duty troops and their families, we have exclusive information he will ask today for their pay raises to be cut.
from 1.7% to just 1%. obviously this looks a lot like a shot across the bow over those possible defense cuts in the works. in fact secretary panetta minced no words at speaking at georgetown a short while ago. he says the upcoming automatic defense spending cuts threaten, quote, the most serious readiness crisis faced by the military in more than a decade. >> for more than a year and a half, the joint chiefs of staff and i have been extremely vocal about our deep concerns about taking another half trillion dollars out of the defense budget, in an across the board fashion. that hits every area, and that guarantees that we hollow out the military. across the board cuts, that would deeply damage our national security. >> the secretary urged congress to accept president obama's call
yesterday for smaller package of cuts to avoid the across the board reductions known as sequestration, you probably heard a lot about that, that sequestration would reduce defense spending by $45 billion through september. the national board of the boy scouts of america has decided to put off an important vote to decide on lifting or not lifting a ban on gays until may. the vote was expected to come today, but moments ago the board said it needed more time for a more deliberate review of the membership policy, due to quote, the complexity of the issue. if the national ban is eliminated, it could be left up to the local scout units to decide if they will accept gay leaders and scouts or if they will not. in the south pacific a powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck off the solomon islands today. and that triggered a tsunami. five people were killed, when a three foot high wave hit the santa cruz islands part of the solomon chain.
the tsunami warning for several countries has now luckily been cancelled. in egypt a rude welcome for president ahmadinejad. it might look good when he was mobbed, but suddenly a man threw a shoe at him. it was captured on a news agency video. the aim was off. the officials say the shoe did hit a security guard, and the shoe is a huge sign of disrespect in those parts of the world. there is a price to be paid for coming clean after years of playing dirty. and for lance armstrong, that price could just be starting at $12 million. cnn can now confirm that the sports insurance company that paid armstrong an eight figure bonus for winning the tour de france in 2002 and 2003 and 2004, well, that company has had it. and they are going to file a lawsuit. they made the decision. it's going to be filed as early
as today to get the money back from armstrong. jeffy tillotson joins me from dallas, the attorney who will be headed to the courthouse to file that paperwork. mr. tillotson this has been talked about for a long time. there was something like an ultimatum, i believe you gave to mr. armstrong saying, pay up or else. is this the or else? >> that's correct, ashleigh. we made our demand for the return of the money we paid him for winning the tour de france races where the titles were stripped. mr. armstrong and his legal team have not complied with that demand. have publicly said he will not return prize money. we are left with little choice but to institute legal proceedings, which my client plans on doing. >> let's be clear, so that the viewers understand what's at stake here. this was lance armstrong, who sued you for the money, when you dared to question whether you should be paying these bonuses, given all of the rumors about the drugs.
and you guys had to come to a settlement on this. didn't you? and you paid him in that settlement. >> that's correct. i mean, he was the official winner of those races. and our contract required that we pay him, if he was the official winner. but both he and his lawyers almost taunted us and said if we are ever stripped of those titles, we will give you the money back. i think at that time, mr. armstrong thought he would never be caught. of course he has been caught, exposed, confessed, admitted essentially to perjury. we will simply ask him to finally live up to his word and give that money back. >> not to suggest you can from memory quote everything that is in your paperwork, but have you got the price tag listed in your suit? >> yes. we paid him a little more than $12 million in prize money for winning three different tour de france races, we will seek repayment of the $12 million plus our costs in legal fees. my client spent an inordinate amount of legal fees and
investigatory fees to develop the evidence that was later turned over to usada. >> how much? >> in excess of seven figures. i mean, the amount -- >> what is the total you are looking for? >> between 13 and $14 million. >> and that includes the interest after all of these years of waiting this out? >> yes. the total sum from mr. armstrong will approach, depending when the lawsuit is resolved, close to $15 million. >> so that's essentially the headline here today, is that you are going after him. you are doing it possibly today at the latest tomorrow. and the price tag for lance armstrong could be upwards of $15 million. >> i think that's right. we made that demand. and lawsuits are about making people do things that they won't otherwise do. he's got to comply with the law and give that money back. >> i want to bring in jeff toobin, don't go away, mr. tillotson. jeff toobin is our senior legal analyst. this is fascinating. because i mean you have been in probably a lot of settlement
rooms, you have to sign off, this thing is closed for good. i am never going back. i can't go back. here's your money, i never want to see you again. that was sort of the essence of this settlement, too. how can you now revisit it? >> well, if it was procured by fraud, if -- the argument is here that armstrong procured this settlement by engaging in fraud, fraudulent conduct, specifically lying about whether he used these drugs, a court could reopen the settlement. but it's by no means certain that mr. tillotson will win the lawsuit even though lance armstrong is a very unsympathetic defendant. >> jeff toobin -- lance armstrong's lawyer said this, i have to quote it, because he doesn't give a lot of interviews, and there aren't a lot of quotes we can actually read from. no athlete has ever gone back and paid back his compensation. some were suspended, but nobody said you've got to give your paycheck back. is that correct?
and who cares, if no one ever has before doesn't mean it can't be done. >> it doesn't mean it can't be done. the argument is the settlement was made with the understanding -- armstrong's argument will be the settlement was made with the understanding that circumstances may change in the future. the world is going to keep spinning, there will be more news, but you are signing away your right to file this case. and this settlement is the end of the case. >> mr. tillotson, just quickly, the amounts that you have quoted me look like you are just trying to get what is yours after what jeff toobin described as a fraudulent payout. the winnings weren't clean. is there not an aspect of punishment you want to inflict on mr. armstrong after dragging your group through the mud and accusing you of not doing the right thing by paying him and daring to question his cleanliness, is there not something else you want, some punitive damage there? >> it's tempting. but it was mr. armstrong and his lawyers that had the vendetta,
that went out and tried to punish people. my client isn't interested in punishing anyone. it's interested in getting back money it improperly paid mr. armstrong. that said, one difference between what mr. toobin says and what happened with us is mr. armstrong committed what i would call relentless perjury in our legal proceeding. he didn't just lie about performance enhancing drugs. he lied about virtually everything. and we are going to ask the arbitration panel that heard that testimony to punish him and hold him accountable for it. it's pretty a stonnishing what he said and did. >> there's no doubt he lied in the depositions, he acknowledged that. but you settled the case. and didn't you then just give up the right to reopen it. you could have gone forward, you could have kept this going, you could have proved he lied. but you didn't. you settled. don't you have to live with that now? >> well, no, the legal posture of the parties was, as long as he was the official winner of the tour de france race, we had
to pay him. his lawyers and mr. armstrong himself testified that if he was ever stripped of those titles, we could come back and get the money back from him, because we no longer had that legal obligation. >> that's in the settlement papers, that you have the right to go back? >> that was part of the proceedings we had. that will be detailed, as we go forward in our legal proceedings. this is sort of a do over. >> i was going to say, i'm flat out of time, i have so many other legal cases that involve lance armstrong i need to talk about. but jeff tillotson, if this ends up in front of a jury, i want to be there for jury selection, because i don't know anybody who ain't seen that oprah interview, and it's like a jury pool all over the country, doesn't matter where you change the venue to. thank you for sharing the information with us. we will be staying on the story with you. >> thank you very much. i appreciate it. >> jeffrey toobin, you are not going anywhere. because as i said, armstrong faces that potential -- as mr.
tillotson said, $15 million lawsuit. that might look like a parking ticket for lance armstrong, when jeff toobin comes back. we will talk about all of the others things that this guy is going to face, and whether what happened today makes a difference. we are back in a moment. [ male announcer ] research suggests cell health
. a brutal attack on six spanish women vacationing in acapulco, mexico. masked gunmen broke into a bungalow, tied up the men, who were staying there. and raped the women. police say they have strong leads and that arrests could be coming any time. skiing champion lindsey vonn is thanking doctors and fans after a terrible accident at the alpine ski world championships in austria on tuesday. von seriously hurt her knee, and she issued this statement today. and here it is. i quote, i can assure you that i will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in soshi. that's the russian city where the winter olympics are set to be held next february. do you remember chris brown and his plea deal after he assaulted his famous girlfriend rihanna four years ago?
that deal included 180 hours -- excuse me, days, of community service. but the los angeles district attorney is not so sure it was done right. and he wants chris brown to redo it. he calls brown's records quote, at best sloppy documentation, and at worst, fraudulent reporting. out with the iron and in with the cat. this is all going to make sense here. monopoly has switched things up. hasbro announcing a brand new playing token just this morning. they let the fans weigh in and replace one of the tokens, so the iron is out, the cat is in, and thank god the thimble was saved for another decade. (phone ringing)
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. a second day of riveting and let's just say very graphic testimony in phoenix, arizona. from a woman who is on trial for the savage killing of her former lover. her nade is jody arias, there she is on the stand. and here is what the jury heard yesterday, when ms. arias decided to talk in her own defense. >> reporter: a bombshell case, a
bombshell defendant. jody arias, a woman on trial for her life in arizona walking silently up to the witness stand to tell the world why she did what she did. the night her ex-boyfriend was stabbed, slashed and shot to death, she says in self defense. >> the simple answer is that he attacked me. and i defended myself. >> reporter: the questions from the get go are friendly. after all, this is direct exam, her lawyer asking the questions. a chance to explain everything, right from the moment she met travis alexander in september '06. the man she is now accused of murdering. a man she met at a company party in vegas. >> there was a crowd of people everywhere. out of the corner of my eye i saw somebody walking toward me. he stopped right in front of me and stuck his hand out and introduced himself. >> reporter: she said it didn't take long before travis became friendlier and friendlier.
so much so she tried to cool things off by telling him she was living with someone else. but later in an elevator it didn't seem to matter. >> he leaned in very close as if he wanted to kiss me and he was licking his lips and staring at my lips, like he wanted to kiss me, but he didn't. >> reporter: they stayed in touch after vegas. jody testifying that travis convinced her to break up with her boyfriend. and within days at a party, jody says the heat between them turned way up. >> was he touching you? >> yes. i don't really recall the specifics. but we were getting intimate. we were making out. i didn't want to do anything that would maybe displease him, not because i feared like he would get angry or anything. but i didn't want him to feel rejected. >> reporter: after lying through her teeth for years about this
murder to police, to friends, and anyone else who would listen, she's now trying to convince a jury that she had no choice but to kill her overbearing ex-boyfriend. just two days on the stand, and they barely scratched the surface in a story of love, lies and a grisly murder that has jody arias face to face with a death qualified jury. >> let's bring in beth karas. every day there are more jarring details that come out on the stand no matter who takes it, whether it's jody or all of the former lovers and friends, who weighed in on this relationship, it's all about the relationship and whether she needed to defend herself. first, she looks so quiet and mousey on the stand. and now there's this report she has to wear a stun belt in court. what's the story? >> reporter: well, actually it's
a leg iron, she can't be stunned with it. it's a leg iron that would prevent her from running. she limps a little bit. it's on her right leg and affects her knee joint. so she can't run. so she goes up to the stand. and she leaves the stand, when the jury is out of the courtroom, just so they don't see that. i am sure the jury -- they are not stupid. they probably know she is incarcerated. this is a blut al slaying, the jury knows the state is seeking death. this is not a woman walking the streets. nonetheless there is a prejudicial factor to the jury seeing her with this iron that clanks while she is walking. >> what happens in a courtroom, it has been said it's like a theatrical performance in so many respects. and jody arias does not look a thing like she looks in her photographs, when the crime happened, and when this relationship was in full steam. is it accidental? or is there something more mechanical to spending four or
five years in a cell awaiting trial? >> reporter: it's probably a combination of things, ashleigh. there's no way her attorneys would allow her to dress the way she did in some of those photos. they bring her her clothes. so she's dressed conservatively, she's wearing the glasses, her hair is a natural color now. she's sitting up there so demurely, so politely, it's hard to contrast that the jody arias we have heard about from travis alexander's friends and seen in the photos. but this won't be lost on the jury. and i'm sure the prosecutor is going to point this out. i mean, she's up there saving her life. she's the one who has all of the motive to tailor her testimony to make her look the best, the sweetest and most innocent and travis alexander to look like the villain. >> just quickly, you and i have covered a number of trials, where female defendants have come out with -- this is going to sound crazy. but dark roots having gone in as blond bombshells. and it's not every jurisdiction
that will allow you to continue looking the way you look when you go in. you don't get hair dye or highlights in the clink. >> reporter: oh, no. absolutely not. she was a brunette by the time of the slaying, and for all we know, i think she continued to be a brunette, i think she was a brunette when she was arrested, in her booking photo. by the way she wanted to put on makeup before her booking photo. she was allowed. and she had a nice little smile in the booking photo. but you are not allowed to have makeup, or its a controlled setting. i have had inmates tell me the tricks they use, women incarcerated to put makeup on. even dye from magazines they will put on their cheeks. >> all sorts of tricks of the trade. that's for sure. makeup for the booking photo. that's a new one. beth karas, thank you. we will watch today as ms. arias takes the stand again day three, and next hour on cnn.com, hln and true tv there will be full coverage. make sure you stay tuned.
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. clay walker is a country music star living out his childhood dream but good country music is not the only thing the fans are getting from walker. he's also sharing with them his fight against a chronic disease multiple sclerosis. here's dr. sanjay gupta with today's human factor. >> reporter: growing up in a small town the oldest of five children clay walker began his life overcoming modest routes and make it on the big stage. years later he realized that dream. singing, touring, jamming, he was a bona fide country music star. almost as soon as he made it big, that dream started to fall apart. >> my hands trying to play the guitar i couldn't hold a guitar pick in my hand. i was devastated. i knew that something was wrong neurologically. >> reporter: that neurological problem was multiple sclerosis
he was 26 years old. according to the first doctor he visited his life was effectively over. >> he said i would be in a wheelchair in four years, and i would be dead in eight. >> reporter: walker spent years huddled with family, gripped by fear, and then he made an emotional turn. he wanted to share information about his disease with his fans. it was one way he thought to fight it. >> the biggest obstacle for people, when they are diagnosed with a disease, any disease, cancer, ms, you name it, any disease, is the fear of it. >> reporter: he first hunted for an expert about his disease called relapsing remitting ms. he wanted someone who could offer hope and knowledge about the best medications. and then walker made a holistic change to his life, a new diet, exercise, spirituality. >> i'm country music artist clay
walker i live every day with multiple sclerosis. >> reporter: he regularly educates others about following a regimen that works for them. so far he has avoided relapse for 16 years. he also started an organization called band against ms, where people with ms can find information, hope, that they can live a full life, even with this chronic disease. >> i was told that i was going to die. once you conquer the fear of the disease, it's kind of liberating. >> reporter: dr. sanjay gupta, cnn reporting.
house speaker john boehner is rejecting president obama's call to delay automatic budget cuts known as the sequester. he is calling for different spending cuts and he's insisting they must not include tax increases. we have a look here at what he had to say this morning at his news briefing. >> what they want is have spending under control so the economy can grow. and they have opportunities again. democrats say we should replace the president's sequester with revenue increases or delay it. republicans say we should replace with responsible reforms
that will help put us on a path to balance the budget in ten years. republicans may not be the majority party here in washington, but the american people would agree with us on this, and we are going to continue to stand with the american people. >> and with the sequester comes $85 billion in cuts all set to take effect on march 1st. we are following a fall out and big legal fall out from lance armstrong's admission his glory years were fueled by illicit drugs and transfusions, at the top of the hour a texas lawyer spoke with us about a long awaited lawsuit, that he has said officially it's going ahead. he wants to recoup more than $12 million in the ill gotten tour de france bonus money. >> he was the official winner of those races and our contract required that we pay him, if he was the official winner. but both he and his lawyers almost taunted us and said if we are ever stripped of those titles, we will give you the
money back. i think at that time, mr. armstrong thought he would never be caught. of course, he has been caught, exposed, confessed, admitted essentially to perjury. we ask him to finally live up to his word and give that money back. >> this is not lance armstrong's only legal problem. nor is it the biggest legal problem. joining me to talk about that one is an impressive batch of experts. from our bench today cnn senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin, also a defense attorney and college professor joey jackson and judge hatchet herself, tv host and best selling author. great to see all three of you. judge hatchet, let me start with you. you heard what the texas attorney jeff tillotson said, he is planning on filing the case today or tomorrow. they want their money back. they said it's ill gotten. i don't care he says we made a settlement. the settlement was based on fraud. does he have a shot? >> absolutely.
based on the fact they entered into the settlement based on a certain set of facts that he has now recanted, i would take the case. i think he has a strong shot at recovering this money. and if i were lance's attorneys, i would try to settle the matter quietly and move on. >> joey jackson, if you are involved in this, and you see a settlement with language saying this thing is signed, sealed and delivered, you both agreed to agree. i never want to see you again in this courtroom. can you go back on that? i mean, this sounds like there are really two ways this could go. >> you know what happens, ashleigh, generally in any settlement, what you sign is a waiver and release, that speaks to the issue you talked about, we are settling, it's over, i don't want to see you. however, as the judge just indicated, when something is predicated upon fraud, then it becomes problematic. now you have a claim saying when you entered into this, it was not done so in good faith. therefore, you nullify the waiver and release. i think they have a good case to get their money back, ashleigh.
>> jeffrey toobin, i want you to come in on this. civil suits are expense and i have painful, it you lose them. but criminal charges are even worse. >> they are painful even if you win. it's unpleasant to be in court. >> it's like going through the laundry. criminal charges are a whole other kettle of fish. the u.s. attorney in los angeles investigated lance armstrong for almost two years and suddenly weirdly dropped everything without explaining anything a year ago, and reporters yesterday had a shot at asking whether the whole oprah interview and the admission i'm a druggy changed anything, when it comes to how the feds look at their set of facts. here's what he said. take a look. >> we made a decision on that case i believe it's a little over a year ago. obviously we have been well aware of the statements that have been made by mr. armstrong and other media reports. that's not changed my view at this time. we will continue to look at the situation. but it hasn't changed our view as i stand here today. >> it hasn't changed our view as i stand here today.
jeffrey toobin, that's one u.s. attorney based in southern california, do all of the u.s. attorney's all over the country work in concert? or might one u.s. attorney say on another coast be working on a whole different investigation that he might not know about? >> there is a long history of u.s. attorney's working in somewhat of conflict with one another. there are a lot of turf battles, there are sometimes lawyers working at cross purposes. but ultimately the department of justice is one department. and they will decide whether to pursue this case or not. it's worth remembering a couple of things about this. these steroids cases have been pretty unsuccessful by the foederal government. these cases have not -- roger clemens was acquitted. barry bonds was mostly acquitted. >> they didn't have full throated admissions on camera to oprah winfrey. >> that's right. but statute of limitations issues are significant. these go back a long way. the underlying drug use, his
clearly false sworn statement in the texas deposition, that clearly is barred by a statute of limitations in texas. so even though it's clear that he lied and lied under oath. it's not clear that there is going to be a criminal investigation. >> hold that thought. i will throw a few words out to this panel. and after the break i'll get your take on what they mean, whether they could stick like glue to lance armstrong or whether they are fun to talk about. drug distribution, fraud, conspiracy, obstruction, witness tampering, intimidation. ouch. those are painful things. after the break, do any of them apply to lance armstrong? back in a moment. le a body in mn tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day can provide 24 hour relief for many with arthritis pain and inflammation.
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responsibility. what's your policy? . so cnn breaking the news just earlier this hour that the attorney in texas that represents the sports insurance agency that paid lance armstrong a whole bunch of bonuses for winning a bunch of tour de france races has decided to go ahead and sue him to get the money back that they settled and paid out to the tune of upwards to 12 to $15 million. so expect that on the legal front. and judge glenda hatchet, and others are back with me to discuss those ugh here words than money. those words i threw out before the break. he was under investigation by the feds for drug distribution, fraud and conspiracy. and people are throwing all sorts of other words out there, like obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation, based on the facts as we know them, from say the oprah interview where he fessed up to
a bunch, judge, does he potentially expose himself to those other serious criminal charges? >> i think so. i absolutely agree with jeffrey, there has not been a great line of success on these doping issues. but when you talk about obstruction of justice, tampering with witnesses, perhaps being involved in distribution of drugs, i think he's facing very serious concerns here. and i think that just because the u.s. attorney in california decides he's not going to go forward with that, i don't think this is over. i think we will see other things come out of this. >> joey jackson, i want to name a couple things that people have said they suffered at the hands of lance armstrong, his behavior and his lies. frankie and betsy andreasay they were libeled by this guy. i assume they could have a civil case against them.
going further, emma o'reilly his masseuse and a gofer for him, she told the usa da he made her pick up and dropped off what she assumed were doping products, now we are talking drugs, and she was present when he and team officials came up with a plan to backdate prescriptions, so he could hide showing up positive in one of the tests. that stuff sounds pretty -- that sounds oh boy to me. >> it does. i would be concerned if i'm in armstrong's camp on two fronts. civil and criminal. as far as civil goes, we know he's going to be exposed to defamation liability. he already is exposed to the lawsuit we are talking about. he's made misrepresentations, so he has to pony up money. as relates to the criminal investigation, remember two things that are very important. the first is simply because the u.s. attorney said initially they were not proceeding does not mean they cannot proceed now. furthermore i'm dealing with a
case where one u.s. attorney's office said no, another said oh yes, we will. so by all means they could still proceed with that investigation, the old investigation and investigate the charges of witness tampering. boy, i think there is trouble to come, ashleigh, without a doubt. >> i wonder, too, with the u.s. attorney, with all of this renewed attention, whether there might be some reconsideration, he said this decision was made a year ago. you are thinking the timing on this. i mean, i think you will see -- i agree, joe, i think he's in for problems both on the criminal side but also on the civil side. this is the first of a series of cases on the civil side we are going to see, maybe from the publishers, from other endorsers, from commercials, i mean it goes on and on. >> there is all of these claims he made, that easily could fit the libel descriptions, there is also stuff he said to former pals in cycling like tyler hamilton said to 60 minutes, that's not under oath but it is
to 60 minutes, lance said to him, i'm going to make your life a living f'ing held and he said to travis tiger, travis tygart suggests he received anonymous threats in the form of emails and the worst threat was somebody was going to put a bullet in his head. that's where i start to wonder, now that this is surfacing, the criminal aspect of those types of things and intimidation. >> i think he has a world of problems in every area. i think his civil exposure is much worse than his criminal. criminal cases are very hard to make. and there is a record of failure in these cases. >> emails are not hard to trace. >> but an anonymous -- travis tygart said someone was going to put a bullet in his head, there is no evidence it was lance armstrong. and some woman assumed there were drugs in something she delivered, that's not a criminal case. i mean, you have to have things nailed down with exquisite precision if you bring a criminal case. and based on what lance armstrong said to oprah, there
were very few specifics there. and it's not clear he's going to talk some more. so i just think you need to be very careful before assuming that he committed crimes. he lied about taking drugs to win races but crimes are a different matter. >> i like that you said exquisite precision, there is so much of that. yet with his precision on how much he admitted to to oprah winfrey. joey jackson i want you to weigh in on the federal whistle blower case. some people get confused about the federal whistle blower case and the federal investigation. just give me a one two on how they are different and how they are very dangerous for him. >> sure. absolutely. with whistle blower, as far as that is concerned, if you believe somebody is committing fraud with federal funds, you can bring forward a whistle blower case. what you do, you say hey, wait a minute government you need to investigate. this person is taking money. as a result the government investigates, if they recover money, ashleigh, you get a piece of it. how nice of an incentive to move
forward. >> and triple damages. so that's where -- the financial exposure is through the roof. the reason it's a federal whistle blower case, he was sponsored by the united states postal service, no more deliveries on saturday as you may have heard. but that money is federal money, and that is money he could get back. >> you just got that news in there?ai just want to provide the news. >> so guys, by the way, 30 million was the estimated defrauding if you multiply by three, that's 90 million. triple threat today, we are keeping our triple panel in place. stay with us. the next topic is the gun debate. if you shoot a gun, what about your exposure to all sorts of legal problems? what if you make the gun? what if you sell the gun? big, big story developing in the west. that's coming up next. et a tow .
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. pull the trigger on a gun, and there are dozens of things you need to think about in a split second like who might die? who could be charged? could you face a civil lawsuit that could end your life as you know it? but push the button on a gun sale the picture is vastly different. there is nowhere near that kind of worry. sellers even manufacturers are protected from legal exposure like that. federal government says so. but the colorado government begs to differ and is proposing a package of gun laws that could open the door to civil lawsuits for makers and sellers of guns. really? judge, and our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin, a former federal prosecutor, and joey jackson, defense attorney and college law professor, what a smart bunch today. joe, i want to start with you. people might be surprised to even know there has been these
protections for manufacturers of guns and sellers of guns. they have enjoyed these protections on a federal level for quite some time. >> you know what happened was in 1994, ashleigh, briefly there was an assault ban weapons that went into effect under clinton. it expired in 2004 and was not reinstated. furthermore not only was it not reinstated the federal government in 2005 under president bush said guess what, you cannot sue these manufacturers under theory of strict liability, defective product unreasonably dangerous thereby making them immune. there are some exceptions. my concern finally is this colorado ban that is proposed may violate federal law, and therefore may be problematic to implement. >> i will get to that in a minute. i want to be real clear, can you see a lot of guns in these pictures, some are pistols, some are assault style weapons. by the way we do not have a perfect definition of what an assault weapon is yet. we won't until we get our
federal legislation in place. in the meantime, this set of proposals in colorado does not actually involve shotguns, bolt action rifles or handguns, just the assault style weapons. jeffrey toobin, weigh in on this. joey jackson mentioned federal law. this is state law. what happens? >> the courts have to sort it out. there's a doctrine of law called preemption, does the federal law preempt? this came about because of the tobacco litigation in the '90s. a lot of lawyers said tobacco is so dangerous, we can just sue the manufacturers, it ultimately led to a gigantic settlement. they said look, why don't we do the same thing with guns? we'll start suing gun manufacturers. and the nra mobilized and said congress, stop this. and congress did. in 2005 in that law and said there can be no lawsuits against gun manufacturers. now in certain states that are under democratic control like colorado, the legislators are
saying no, we want to revisit the issue. we want to allow gone manufacturers to be sued. they are the ones profiting from having guns on the street. it's a very tough call. i don't know how a court would sort out the federal versus state, if colorado actually passes this law. >> so often you tell me that federal law trumps state law, when push comes to shove. why not in this case? >> when there's direct conflict, that's true. there are certain areas that are preserved only for the federal government, like regulation of the military. i mean, that's something only federal. but certain areas, there is joint, there can be joint jurisdiction, and the question is can gun liability be one of those areas. >> judge hatchett weigh in here with me, and explain why a gun therefore would be any different than say a knife? so the person who manufactured my lovely kitchen knife, that could be used in a murder would
also be liable. or the car that i drive, that i drank and killed someone, the manufacturer of that deadly weapon, doesn't this set a precedent? >> it's a very complicated situation. i want to go back just a second to the federal statute that was implemented in 2005 after heavy, heavy, heavy lobbying from the nra. i mean, it was a huge victory for them. but there are exceptions as joey mentioned that talk about defective manufacturing and negligence. so if a distributor knows that they are circumventing the background check, they can do that. but i do think this is a complicated situation. it is what happens, and how far back and how can you connect the dots for causation, even if you have the statute, it does not necessarily mean that you will prevail in these civil cases. because you have to establish some connection between the gun manufacturer and the incident that happened, where somebody was injured or died. i think jeffrey is right.
it's going to be a complicated situation that's going to be sorted out. i don't think it will be sorted out any time soon. one footnote -- >> real quick. >> if the federal law would change, which is not likely, that would resolve this. i don't see that happening. >> judge glenda, jeffrey toobin, joey jackson, thank you to all three of you for reading up on all of those cases for this program. thanks, everybody. see you again soon. i'm glad you were here. thanks for watching newsroom international with suzanne malveaux starts after this quick break. hen ito buy one.tirely ney no. no. no. yes! a website that works like a wedding registry. but for a car. first, you customize it. then let people sponsor the car's parts as gifts. dad sponsors the engine for your birthday. grandma sponsors the rims for graduation. the car gets funded. then you pick up your new dodge dart at the dealership. and all that's left to do is say thanks. easy. ♪
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